A Spectacle On the Shore

10.31.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

10.31.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

On Friday night in Atlantic City, Phish was at it again. Playing a scalding hot show to follow up Halloween, the band laid it all on the table with a performance defined by a thirty-year confidence and improvisational swagger. On Fall Tour of their 30th Anniversary year, the guys have synced up like never before, playing jams that are plucked from our dreams, and on this night, they dropped a “Twist” for the ages that we will be listening to for the rest of our lives. While the second set opener was certainly the centerpiece of the night, the show was rock solid through both sets, only suffering a minor song-based lull deep in the second. But even these late-set songs popped in a show where Phish slayed every single piece they touched from the first note through the encore—another precious night of music on a Fall Tour that is quickly making history.

11/1 Official (D.Mumford)

11/1 Official (D.Mumford)

One might have understood if the guys had come out with a mellow set after their marathon holiday show, but in fact the opposite happened—they came out en fuego. Kicking off a night with “Cavern,” an unsuspectingly great show opener, Phish sounded like they had never left the stage. The band picked up just where they had left off the night before, and laid into a second-song “Runaway Jim,” in which the guys got funky early on. In the bridge of the song, the band broke down the typically quiet section into a filthy groove, and Trey stepped to the mic with the lyrics from the theme of  “Shaft!” Shit was getting dirty and it was only the show’s second song. It was at this juncture that we all knew we were in for another quintessential night of Phish. The band then confirmed this notion by dropping a third-song “Sand!”

Usually when Phish plays “Sand” in the first set, it remains fairly succinct and to the point, but this one would be an aberration from the norm. Stretching out the piece into a scintillating groove fiesta that—momentarily—sounded like it might pop out of form, the band was letting loose on this opening frame with playing that sounded like it belonged after setbreak. Both “Halfway to the Moon” and “Halley’s Comet” were performed with authority, as Trey explained that the former would likely be a track on next year’s album. The band moved into their second consecutive throwdown out of “Halley’s Comet” (the last being Hartford’s “2001”), with a ferocious “Tube” that kept the energy of the room sky high.

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

The band nodded to its hot first set by playing Los Lobos’ “When the Circus Comes,” a song generally reserved for cooling down after particularly smoking interplay. Bustouts of “Sugar Shack” and “Jesus Left Chicago” preceded a superb “David Bowie” that served at the opening course’s final touch—and what a start it was!

But—Jesus Christ in the foothills—the “Twist” that opened the second set was simply out of this universe. The level of connection and communication displayed by Trey, Mike, Page and Fish was pushed to another dimension as they wove a majestic tale that leapt—immediately (as in before the set ended)—into the annals of Phish history. Like Jordan or LeBron, Phish has routinely transformed their weaknesses into strengths, and after “Twist” had fallen off the improvisational radar in the modern era, the band has brought the song back with a fury on this fall tour. On this night, they wove a quasi-medley of teases in “Twist,” as the band hit on “Banana Pudding” and Trey quoted The Beatles’ “Get Back” early in the jam, while landing in full blown jam on Queen’s “Under Pressure” late in the excursion. But holy shit, what came in between! Reaching a triumphant stride, the band converged on one of the most cathartic passages of music they have ever played. No fucking joke. Weaving magic out of thin air, Phish blasted into a majestic passage that needs to be heard by all to be believed. This was pure hose to the nth degree, and this segment elevated the room to dizzying—literally unbelievable—heights. The band came out of this magnificent section into the “Under Pressure” jam, and once they saw that through, they moved into music that sounded like the spiritual fallout of the explosive jaunt. Allowing the music to take its course, the band meandered in this milieu for some time, almost sounding like they might build back into “Twist’s” ending, but instead came to rest to a monumental ovation.

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

The band released from “Twist’s” phenomenal excursion by unveiling the first “Jibboo” of Fall Tour, and playing the living daylights out of it. Allowing their audience to get loose to far less cerebral music, everyone appreciated the groovy interlude in order to gather their marbles. Trey must be boning up on his strains, because his pun about smoking OG Kush “under his bush” in “Makisupa” became a running joke for the rest of the show. But first and foremost, the rhyme became the source of a tripped out and layered vocal jam in a heavily improvised version of the song. One could sense another jam vehicle lurking behind this bush, and when the song ended, the guys dropped into “Light.”

Spending a large portion of time juicing the composed jam, the band finally opened things up into some intricate grooves that saw Trey do work on rhythm guitar. This “Light” also featured a third segment that blossomed when the band seeped out of their groove into something more abstract. Patiently building this final segment, they wound their way—kind of abruptly­­—into “Chalk Dust.” And here’s where things got a tad songy. Trey next called for “Meatstick,” “Boogie On,” and “Wedge,” though the first two selections contained extra improvisational mustard.

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

Phish closed things out with a gorgeous “Slave to the Traffic Light” that fell somewhere stylistically between Hampton’s refined and delicate version and Hartford’s old-school shredder. And just when everyone was catching their breath and beginning to consider their first post-show move, the guys dropped a jammed out “Sneakin’ Sally” encore—with a reprise of the “Shaft” jam—on our exhausted domes! What a freakin’ treat—and a highlight, taboot.

These nights of Phish that we’ve been experiencing since Glens Falls has brought be back—in feeling—to my youngest days as a fan, teeming with excitement and bursting with enthusiasm. But now that we—as a community—are older and more evolved, these jaw-dropping nights of Phish take on such a greater poignancy. Special would be the understatement of the century; sacred is far more appropriate. And with one night left a Fall Tour that will go down in history, let’s all have a night to remember.

I: Cavern, Runaway Jim*, Sand, Halfway to the Moon, Halley’s Comet, Tube, When the Circus Comes, Sugar Shack, Jesus Just Left Chicago, David Bowie

II: Twist > Gotta Jibboo,  Makisupa Policeman, Light -> Chalk Dust Torture, Meatstick, Boogie On Reggae Woman, The Wedge, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley*

*w/ “Shaft” jam

Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

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653 Responses to “A Spectacle On the Shore”

  1. Joe Says:

    Saw phoam and bek in the phish Halloween costume contest photos. Sweet

  2. phishm Says:

    FF question. I’m being offered a trade for my Matthew Stafford for my opponents Rob Gronkowski and Vincent Jackson. I already have Peyton Manning and Russel Wilson as my other qb’s. It’s a 2 qb league however. Just thought I’d see what the bb thinks.

  3. little umbrellas Says:

    yeah, like the playing in Light. fell flat at the end but some nice stuff in there.

    This Twist seems over hyped, gave it a second spin. kinda long but not really calling in the primal forces.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    @lil um. in the twist – go back to the jam *after* Under Pressure. Trza going off sideways with crazy abstract effects work. A+ creative guitar IMO. Jam between Get Back and Under Pressure is more of an in the room energy peak. I liked it but the post UP jam has the goods.

    Smoking guitar peak in Jiboo, dang

    shoutout to @snowbank who knows why, and also to @voopa, as always you are the Voop-Star

  5. stupendous Says:

    twist from a few night ago was a monster wasnt it?

  6. PigSong Says:

    Last night was another fantastic experience on couch tour for me. Guess those in attendance had fun too 🙂

    Thanks for the write up Mr M.

    I’ll be doing my best tonight, five dogs (three extras) and a one year old. Maybe mommy will be home in time to rage set II together.

  7. vapebraham Says:

    “go back to the jam *after* Under Pressure”

    ^^^ yes. that is the shit.

  8. PigSong Says:

    Just reading back a bit, Mr C posting about chemo: absolute best to you brother. One of my best friends has been shaking that stick for almost a year, tough stuff.

    Seriously, love to you and yours. Great to pop in and see you spreading wisdom like days of lore.

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    surprised at the massive love being shown for AC Carini and Twist. Both have moments of music that drew me in. but in general don’t touch the level of intensity or bad ass-ness shown in Dick’s Dust, Woosta Drowned/Light, Hampton TweezAge etc..

    some people like the fluffy Major ‘content’ jams. I remember putting out a jaded post similar to this one after the Hampton 1 Carini. Then they dropped the above mentioned Dark and bad ass jams. So I ate my words… But here at the end of tour, AC has been a return to the content bliss jams. meh

    “satisfied with a certain level of achievement”- this is the Phish sound that people revel in that doesn’t float my boat.

    -excuse the Wombat like post, but I’m sust sayin… searching for the depths

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    I also like the fact that it moves fluidly between off the cuff quotes – that’s is very mid 90s phish so there’s a throwback element to it

    I’m not sure how my final feelings will be about all these big jams. My overall thought right now is that some of them are long and coherent across the whole thing (Tweezer Age, AC Carini), some are very multiphased to the point of discontinuity (Twist, which again is just kind of a mid 90s throwback style) and a bunch are in between

    I really found the Carini quite stunning. It’s extremely subtle and plays out over long time scales. I found it very beautiful and am fascinated by the dynamics of Trey leading the band without playing any read lead lines. To me the internal communication in that jam is the most transparent and fluid. It’s the group mind amoeba style jam blown out will full patience.

    I do in general find the dark, dissonant jamming more engaging so really it’s probably just a matter of taste and mood when picking which one to listen to in the future.

    Thought the Light showed a surprising amount of creativity for midset after a big improv blowout, heady guitar peak and Maki freakout

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    totally disagree, nothing fluffy in the Carini at all. Agree Dicks Dust is right at the peak level of any & all of these we’re talking about. Carini is the shit IMO, uber sophisticated but gentle and thoughtful. Sounds like you’re looking past it maybe on expectations or style preferences. Twist a little less my style but a thrilling ride in a cool throwback style

  12. little umbrellas Says:

    MrC. @ the jam after the Under Pressure tease, Yes! completely agree. That part is right up my alley, listened to that few minutes twice in a row. a very rad moment. but only a few minutes compared to what is in most of that jam.

  13. PigSong Says:

    Willowed: walk in backwards..duh

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    I will listen to that Carini again. actually i’ll do that right now.
    on the first spin those big builds seemed like they would have been fun in the room, but didn’t represent any tight locked in groove or nasty licks. just a big surge of climactic possi energy.

    hearing what you’re sayin about style preference… so I’m gonna check myself and try again.

  15. Slicksasquatch Says:

    It’s jersey I’m sure no one is interested in bribes . Slip the right one a fin or a Hamilton or a jacko. Almost as easy as walking backwards

  16. voopa Says:

    Brain holes suck.

  17. vapebraham Says:

    AC carini is $$$ (probably $$$+). locked in, cerebral, top shelf, rhythmic, organic jamming. love the loose, groovy, steady rollin feel that kicks in at 5:43 and flows through till the build to the peak at 13 mins. last 2 minute denouement is tre sweet too.

    needed to do pre-show shower, but this carini sucked me in.

  18. vapebraham Says:

    ^^ one shortcoming for me in the carini (keeping it firmly at $$$ and not $$$+), b/c i’m not a glory jam guy is the section from 13 through 17 mins.

  19. Stoney Case Says:

    CouchTour! Finally. Glad to be back. Taking a day break.

    Wilson for Glowbanks!

    Kaya, your Phish Card has been revoked. Peace!

  20. weekapaug Says:

    I would have to agree with you @umbrellas. Twist Carini didn’t really do it for me as well.

    Beanie Trey with a tshirt!? Its on!

  21. little umbrellas Says:

    AC Carini
    3:00-5:30 Awesome Dark type 1 Carini madness, F yes! (Page Piano rippin it, Trey with that killer envelope tone, MVP Fishman with huge tension building fills!)

    5:30-6:30 (Trey gettin funk rhythm down but Fishman just keeping it weird $$)

    6:30- 8:30 (finding a cool groove, strange background droning tone, Page Wurli tone $$, Fishman building it at the end of this segment)

    8:50 (the switch to Major Key)

    8:50-11 (open nice Major key jamming, gentle)

    11 (okay, searching now, meandering, going for the straight 8ths build up, kinda not working, not bad but diffuse and directionless)

    11-17 (A very long amoebic like build in the Major Key, open gentle feel but builds up in energy and then gives way to some leads by Trey)

    17-19 (Nice Post jam ambient denouement)

  22. Stoney Case Says:

    Winter hat! Surely this means great things in store.

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    @Weekapaug, both of those Carini’s feature nasty get downs at the beginning of the jam, and then switch to Major/Dominant style euphoria builds.

    Like I said (wombat comment here), but I think I’m growing an aversion to Phish Major Key jamming. (still like it in Hood or Reba style jams though).

    Minutes 11-16 of AC Carini won’t need to be heard by these ears again.

  24. jdub Says:

    last night of tour! Stoked.

  25. MiA Says:

    Trey is channeling Great Went with the cap.

    If they would have played Ocelot during Went.

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